Cheering crowd welcomes Apple to the Mall of America
By Jim Dalrymple
It’s hard to tell who was more excited, the Apple Store employees or the crowd attending the opening of the company’s newest retail store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. As the doors opened, cheers reverberated through the halls of the Mall of America.
Before the doors opened, enthusiastic Apple employees came out to meet the crowd, asking where they were from and thanked everyone for coming.
Before the opening, employees had a team meeting in the back of the store where they played the song “We are Family.” The employees clapped and cheered as the door opened and people clapped along outside.
“The store is packed,” Jon Okerstrom who is attending the event told MacCentral. “A thousand plus people were in line when the store opened this morning.”
Tiffany Anderson and her husband Joel (pictured below) — an education District Technology Coordinator — were the first in line for the opening of Apple’s Mall of America retail store. They arrived at 2:00 am after traveling 280 miles from Virginia, Minnesota to be part of the excitement, the couple told MacCentral.
Apple Senior Vice President of Retail, Ron Johnson told MacCentral that the Mall of America location is right for Apple for two reasons: the area is historically a great Mac market and a publishing hotbed. Johnson said that 200,000 people will walk through the mall today — 10,000 probably avid Mac users, that leaves 190,000 likely PC users to show what Apple does.
“The word computer isn’t ever in the store,” Johnson told MacCentral. “It’s Photos and Movies.”
Johnson said the Apple employees are just like the people outside in line — they’re Mac people, who have a variety of interesting hobbies, all linked to the digital hub.
Johnson doesn’t see the soft economy as a negative. He said that Apple is well financed and the best companies invest. Recessions always end — this is a great time for Apple.
People seem to be buying, too. So far, an iMac, Apple Cinema Display, lots of software, some iBooks and at least one Titanium PowerBook has been sold, Okerstrom said.
Kym Wester, Assistant Manager for the Apple Store says she “gets goosebumps” coming into work every day. “The people I work with here are inspiring, smart, and fun people,” Wester told MacCentral. Wester says there are about 35 people working today as part of the launch group. Normally, the store has 10 full time people. “We’re honored to work with Apple,” she said.
Tim Delhey, a freelance designer and architect from Karlsruhe Germany has been following the other store openings on the Internet and decided to attend this one while visiting friends in Minneapolis. “I really like the store — it’s very European in design and I like that. It’s so bright and I think that they do a good job presenting the machines and it’s great that everybody has access,” Delhey told MacCentral.
Sixteen-year-old Nick Custodio of McHenry, Illinois made the six-hour drive today to experience the opening. Custodio said he came to see the new G4s and iBooks, the new DVD software and iMovie 2.
Dean Tollefsrud and his best friend Lynne Mortinson drove from Rochester, Minnesota to check out some of the products. Dean says he’s interested in a Dual 800MHz G4 and an Apple Cinema Display. Why Apple? “It’s just simple,” Tollefsrud said. “Simple is best and that’s what Apple does.” Mortinson added, “Apple’s just such a friendly computer.”
At 11:15 am the line outside the store was still quite long and Apple Store employees were making their way through the crowd talking with them.
The store is incredibly noisy with music playing in the background. People in the store are carrying on energetic conversations about hardware, software and all things Mac. Customers are playing with every computer in the place and having a lot of fun.